Andrew Simmons could have gone anywhere to get his engineering degree. When the University of Prince Edward Island announced an expansion of its diploma program into a full degree program last year, in its new School of Sustainable Design Engineering, he jumped at the chance to continue his studies on PEI.

“I’m so excited,” says the third-year student. “We’re essentially partnering with clients as junior engineers, rather than engineering students. So we’re assigned a company to work for, and we work as an engineering consulting firm and try to solve their problem throughout the year.”

For Simmons, it was that hands-on experience of designing solutions that won him over. The UPEI School of Sustainable Design Engineering partners students with industry and community organizations from their first year, all the way through the program.

“Looking at my options at other universities, I wouldn’t get that experience,” says Simmons. “This third year we have two credits dedicated to design. And that’s what I like to do most.”

This year marked the first-ever cohort of third-year students in UPEI’s engineering program. They work with companies and organizations to solve real problems and improve their production, processes, and systems. And it’s part of a professional-practice and career experience that is project-based, industry-linked and one you can’t get anywhere else.

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